TORONTO — After five years of satirizing many facets of contemporary culture and women’s experiences — from politics to relationships and even the overuse of dry shampoo — the all-female troupe behind the hit CBC series “Baroness von Sketch Show” has decided to end the series after its fifth season this fall.
Co-creator and star Jennifer Whalen says the foursome has joked from the beginning that they would love to do five seasons, and when they embarked on filming season 5 in Toronto last fall, they realized ”it just energetically felt like the time.”
“With our sketches, we always like to keep them short and not over stay our welcome, and we just all felt that season 5 was the right time,” Whalen, who is the showrunner for season 5, said Thursday in a phone interview.
“We can end on a high note and go out with the show having the same quality it always did. We’re really excited for everyone to see season 5, we think it’s really great.”
“Baroness von Sketch Show” debuted in June 2016 with Whalen, Carolyn Taylor, Meredith MacNeill and Aurora Browne as the writers, stars and executive producers.
The series has won several Canadian Screen Awards and is currently nominated for five more trophies going into next week’s winners’ announcements.
Whalen said ratings had nothing to do with the decision to end the show.
“Not at all. It was always really important to us to present the best show that we possibly could. And so we just wanted to really make sure that we ended the show on our terms and with respect to our audience who’ve been so amazing and supportive.”
The Canadian comedy, which also airs on IFC in the U.S., gave irreverent takes on everything from mundane office culture to middle-age life and major social issues involving feminism, identity and gender.
Whalen said they never held back on their ideas over the years — “What’s the sports term? I think we left everything on the floor” — and never had a gender qualifier attached to their work.
“Usually in writing rooms you’re often a ‘female comedy writer,’ not just a comedy writer, or a ‘female comedy performer.’ Your gender is always attached,” she said.
“In our room, I never felt like gender was the first thing that led. It was just like, ‘We’re all comedians. We’re all here trying to make a really funny show.’”
Memorable moments include the “Red Wine Ladies” who imbibe too much; the “Psych-up Salad” sketch in which MacNeill goes to great lengths to stomach a healthy green lunch; and another extreme turn from MacNeill in which her hair expands wildly by the day as she blasts it with dry shampoo.
“I think the fact that it found an audience with men and women alike really proved the point that we are the same more than we are different,” Whalen said.
“Superficial differences, yeah, of course, they make some difference. But essentially, I think people want the same thing: food, shelter, love. And we were able to highlight that.
“Some of the things that did skew more towards like ‘this is a real female experience’ were I think liberating for women to see their experience portrayed. And then I think some men really felt like they were getting a window into something that they never saw.”
The foursome delivered about 12 sketches per episode, sometimes making adjustments on the fly and getting creative in order to make a sketch fit within the budget.
Seasons 1-4 are on the CBC Gem streaming service.
The show’s fans flooded social media expressing sadness about its demise Thursday, with many adding they were happy it seemed to be going out on its own terms.
“Nothing more baller than leaving before the audience does. Congratulations all,” actor Jonathan Torrens posted on Twitter.
“Though incredibly saddened by this news, I do feel more confident about my Baron Von Sketch pitch. Thanks for all the laughs,” comedy star Colin Mochrie quipped on Twitter.
Tweeted Allana Harkin, a Canadian producer and correspondent on “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”: “You should be nominated for an Emmy. Just say’n.”
MacNeill already appears poised for her next project. In February, CBC and NBCUniversal International Studios announced she will be co-starring with Adrienne Moore in a new female-driven buddy-cop TV drama called “Lady Dicks.”
Sally Catto, general manager of entertainment, factual and sports at CBC, praised the show for breaking new ground.
“Jennifer, Carolyn, Aurora and Meredith have changed the landscape of Canadian comedy forever, and we are so very proud of their achievement,” Catto said.
Whalen said she has mixed emotions about it coming to an end but is proud it’s made such an impact on viewers.
“This came from a place of not seeing women represented on television the way that we knew them to be,” she said.
“And my hope is that it inspires anybody out there who does not see their experience represented on television, that they can see that it is possible to get something made and to have it out there.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2020.